Watch curling – yes, the sport with the brooms – at Irvine’s Great Park Ice – Orange County Register

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This week, Great Park Ice in Irvine is hosting its first major international competition since the pandemic, but it’s not hockey or figure skating – it’s curling.

Yes, curling, the sport where players slide special stones along the ice and teammates sweep the path in front of them with long-handled brooms.

“Probably few people in Southern California have seen live curling,” said Art Trottier, vice president of The Rinks, the Anaheim Ducks’ nine-facility group, including Great Park Ice. But they’ll have a chance Wednesday through Friday, when curling teams from four countries compete in front of spectators at “Curling Night in America”.

  • Chris Plys throws a stone for Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC is filming the competition on August 24, 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” ​​features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A curler sweeps past a rock for Team USA in training for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition August 24-27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • John Landsteiner sweeps in front of a rock as coach Phill Drobnick times the United States team’s stopwatch during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, California, Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC is filming the competition from August 24-27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A worker sprays water on the ice to create pebbles for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27 , 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” ​​features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • John Shuster throws a stone for Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Matt Hamilton throws the stone for Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • John Landsteiner sweeps past the stone for Team United States during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24-27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Colin Hufman is all smiles after throwing a stone for Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC is filming the competition from August 24-27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • The United States and Canada practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC will be filming the competition from August 24-27, 2021. The seventh The season of “Curling Night in America” ​​features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • John Shuster throws a stone for Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • John Landsteiner throws a stone for Team United States during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A curler prepares to throw a stone for Team United States during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24-27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC is filming the competition from August 24-27, 2021. The seventh The season of “Curling Night in America” ​​features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A curler throws a stone for Team United States during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Colin Hufman throws a stone for Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Matt Hamilton throws a stone for Team USA during practice for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27, 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • A worker sprays water on the ice to create pebbles for the “Curling Night in America” ​​competition at the Great Park Ice & Five Point Arena in Irvine, Calif. On Tuesday, August 24, 2021. NBC films the competition on August 24, 27 , 2021. The seventh season of “Curling Night in America” ​​features teams from Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

Interest in the sport increases around the Winter Olympics, and Orange County has had a curling league for at least a decade – Trottier said he and his wife even played for a few seasons because it looked like something fun and different to do together.

Interested in finding out what sport is all about? Here’s what you need to know:

What is “Curling Night in America”?

The event scheduled for Wednesday through Friday will feature men’s, women’s and mixed doubles teams from the United States, Canada, Germany and Denmark who will compete in a tournament that will be taped by NBC Sports for broadcast next month. .

Several games will take place throughout the day and spectators are welcome (tickets start at $ 10 for the first game and go up for the following ones). Trottier said he expected crowds of up to 600 viewers for the evening competitions.

What is curling and where does it come from?

The sport is believed to have originated in the 16th century, when “it was played on the frozen lakes of Scotland,” said Jenna Martin, senior director of marketing and communications for USA Curling.

In the 1800s, Scottish immigrants brought curling to America and other places where ponds and lakes freeze over, although today it is practiced almost entirely indoors, according to the website of the World Curling Federation.

Teams of four try to land granite stones closest to a target on the ice, set up defense around their stones in scoring position, or knock opponents’ stones off the target. Rather than ice skates, players wear special shoes, one with a surface that allows them to glide while throwing the stone and one that grips.

Martin compared the concept of curling to that of pétanque, where players try to roll their balls close to a target ball and get closer to it than their opponents.

What’s wrong with the broom?

When a player throws a stone, a teammate uses a special broom to sweep past them, both to help the stone travel further and to direct where it is going. “They put small scratches in the ice, which will direct the running surface of the stone,” Martin explained.

Meanwhile, another teammate known as the captain oversees the team’s strategy, holding a broomstick for the stone thrower to aim for and helping steer his way towards the sweeper.

So who can participate in curling?

USA Curling’s membership currently consists of around 200 clubs representing 25,000 players, Martin said, and anyone can play a version of it. With versions that are wheelchair accessible and suitable for people with different abilities, “we see it as a sport for life,” she said.

During the 2018 Olympics, around 7 million people watched the gold medal curling game, she said, and USA Curling is hoping to generate more interest in Irvine’s event.

It is a game known for its sportsmanship and collegiality – enthusiasts call it “the spirit of curling” – which includes respecting other players, following the rules and buying a drink from the club. opponent thereafter, said Martin.

Curling Night in America will take place Wednesday August 25 through Friday August 27 at Great Park Ice, 888 Ridge Valley, Irvine. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.grandparkice.com.

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